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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Rábago leaving Austin Energy to begin consulting practice
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 by Jo Clifton
As if the stress of shepherding new rates through a sometimes truculent City Council were not enough, Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis must now find a new vice president for Distributed Energy Services. Weis informed employees on Friday that Karl Rábago had resigned.
Rábago, who came to Austin Energy in 2009, is starting an energy consulting business. Environmentalists who heard about Rábago’s departure were worried about the rumored impending breakup of the Energy Services Division. Weis said Monday that he has no intention of splitting up the division.
The division includes Energy Efficiency Services, Market Research Planning & Development, the Clean Energy Accelerator, Green Building & Emerging Technologies and Key Accounts.
With Rábago’s departure, Weis said he would personally be more involved in the division, adding that he had appointed Fred Yebra as acting vice-president of distributed energy services. He also said he would immediately start recruiting – both within Austin Energy and outside the utility – to fill the position. Yebra has been director of energy efficiency services.
In addition, Weis said he has decided to hire a new Chief Strategy Officer for the utility. That job has been vacant since the retirement of John Baker in January 2011. Weis said he wants to beef up efforts related to the Smart Grid and electric vehicles at the Pecan Street Project. He said he is also interested in helping in development of new initiatives related to smart phones.
Weis said that Rábago’s final day would be this Friday, not last week, as had been reported.
Weis said he met with a group of concerned activists, including recent mayoral candidate Brigid Shea, on Friday, to hear their concerns, assure them that energy services would continue as a unit and energy efficiency would continue to have a robust presence at the utility. Weis said he would aggressively pursue improvements in conservation, not take the unit apart.
Rábago, a former Texas Public Utility Commissioner, former law school professor and former Deputy U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy, told In Fact Daily he is looking forward to his new consulting career at the nexus of energy and law. “ I’ve had a wonderful time these last three years,” he said, adding that he wants to keep working on vehicle electrification and demand-response problems. “I want to continue the buzz….I think (the change of jobs) will work out well for me.” He declined to comment on his reasons for leaving, as did Weis.
For more information, see Rábago’s web site, www.rabagoenergy.com.
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